New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art’s legendary Biennial exhibit is taking place, but the Whitney has a problem. Warren B. Kanders, the vice chairmen of the board of trustees, has amassed a $700 million fortune selling law enforcement gear and tear gas that has been used against unarmed civilians in Ferguson, Baltimore, Standing Rock, Puerto Rico, the U.S.-Mexico border, and in Israel/Palestine. Calls for the war profiteer’s resignation are growing louder by the day.
On a wintery Friday night in Washington DC the Palestinian electronic debke band 47Soul plays a sold-out club show at the Tropicalia. Kim Jensen interviewed the band about their music that fuses elements of electronic dance, trance, reggae, and rock with Palestinian percussion and the mijwiz—a traditional Arab reed instrument—driving the vibe. “That sound deserves to be international,” guitarist and vocalist Hamza Arnaout tells Jensen. “I want it to be part of our music. Maybe later on it will contribute to the bigger pool of consciousness in pop music.”
Marc Lamont Hill delivered an inspiring keynote address to a standing-room only celebration of radical organizing for Palestine as the organization Existence is Resistance celebrated its 10-year anniversary in New York City.
Larry Commodore, a First Nations activist aboard the al-Awda boat to Gaza, speaks to Kim Jensen about the sing-a-longs on the Freedom Flotilla, his treatment once detained in Israel, and how he fell into activism to support Palestinians.
Kim Jensen writes, “Everything about the trial of Dareen Tatour was like fiction. Everything required the willing suspension of disbelief. From the opening pages, it was impossible to digest the premise that an unknown young poet from a small town in the Galilee would be hauled off by Israeli police and border guards for a smattering of posts on the internet. To get the truth, sometimes you have to quit and start from scratch. Everything about the story of Dareen Tatour is the story of Falasteen.”
The ‘Freedom’ boat headed for Gaza is expected to be intercepted by Israeli navy on Friday, as it approaches 50 miles from the strip. In an earlier seizure of ‘Al Awda,’ in violation of international law, Israeli sailors arrested Joe Meadors, a survivor of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1968, He was held in Givon prison, and deported to Texas.
On July 31, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour faces sentencing for alleged incitement due to her Facebook posts and expects to be imprisoned. In an interview with Kim Jensen, Tatour reflects on her commitment to one country with equal rights for all and to solidarity among women, and reveals that her rape is the subject of a forthcoming novel.
Ben Jealous, the former President and CEO of the NAACP, is running for governor of Maryland. Kim Jensen and Laila El-Haddad are encouraged by his stances on public education, worker’s rights, and single-payer healthcare but say his position on BDS reveals a troubling inconsistency in his platform as a progressive.
Kim Jensen reports on a town hall meeting with Maryland Senator Ben Cardin that was taken over by protesters opposed to his support for the Israel Anti-Boycott Act — under which businesses, organizations, and even individuals who join in the international movement to boycott and divest from the state of Israel can potentially face astronomical fines and even jail time. Jensen writes, “Senator Cardin has a clear choice before him. He can continue to dance and dodge his way down the unethical and undemocratic path of representing the interests of AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby, or he can listen to his constituents and the respected lawyers of the ACLU,and kill this bill. He can’t have it both ways.”
Kim Jensen writes: Why do critics of cultural boycotts insist on framing them as a form of censorship, rather than as an invitation to imagine and enact more principled forms of engagement? Are cultural and academic boycotts an effective strategy when some artists and allies may be marginalized in the process? These are the kinds of questions that are explored in a useful new collection of essays, “Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production,” which offers a rich and lively analysis of historical and present-day boycotts and the ethical, political, and practical issues they raise.